NATO warns Turkey against buying Chinese, Russian air defense systems
ANKARA- Hürriyet Daily News | 7/25/2011 12:00:00 AM | ÜMİT ENGİNSOY
NATO may avoid sharing ballistic missiles intelligence with Turkey if the nation decides to buy Chinese or Russian systems for its missile defense program
Ankara would have to operate without NATO’s intelligence information on incoming ballistic missiles if it chooses to buy Chinese or Russian systems for its national air and missile defense program, officials of the Western alliance have warned Turkey.
Participating in the ongoing competition to win Turkey’s national air and missile contract are the U.S. partnership between Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, with their Patriot air defense systems; Russia’s Rosoboronexport, marketing the S300; China’s CPMIEC (China Precision Machinery Export-Import Corp.), offering its HQ-9; and the Italian-French Eurosam, maker of the SAMP/T Aster 30. Turkey is planning to make its selection late this year or early next year.
Many Western officials and experts say that since the Russian and the Chinese systems are not compatible with NATO systems, their potential eventual victory might provide them with access to classified NATO information, and as a result may compromise NATO’s procedures.
But despite this criticism, Turkey so far has ruled against expelling the Chinese and Russian options, saying there is no need to exclude them from the Turkish competition.
One Western expert countered that “if, say, the Chinese win the competition, their systems will be in interaction, directly or indirectly, with NATO’s intelligence systems, and this may lead to the leak of critical NATO information to the Chinese, albeit inadvertently. So this is dangerous.”
“NATO won’t let that happen,” another Western official told the Hürriyet Daily News on Monday. “If the Chinese or the Russians win the Turkish contest, their systems will have to work separately. They won’t be linked to NATO information systems.”
This was the first time NATO has strongly urged Turkey against choosing the non-Western systems.
“One explanation is that Turkey itself doesn’t plan to [ultimately] select the Chinese or Russian alternatives, but still is retaining them among their options to put pressure on the Americans and the Europeans to [lower] their prices,” the Western expert said.
Turkey’s long-range air and missile defense systems program (T-Loramids) has been designed to counter both enemy aircraft and missiles.
NATO missile shield
Turkey’s national program is totally separate and independent from NATO’s own plans to design, develop and build its own collective missile shield.
The Western alliance decided during a leaders’ summit meeting in Lisbon in November last year to create the collective missile shield against potential incoming ballistic missiles from rogue countries. Ankara agreed to the decision only after the alliance accepted a Turkish request that Iran or other countries would not be specifically mentioned as potential sources of threats.
NATO now is seeking to deploy a special X-band radar in Turkish territory for the early detection of missiles launched from the region.
Senior U.S. and Turkish officials discussed the matter in mid-July in Istanbul on the sidelines of a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and both sides reported progress toward an eventual deployment of the X-band radar on Turkish soil.
Ideally, in the event of a launch of a ballistic missile from a rogue state, it would be detected by the X-band radar, and U.S.-made SM-3 interceptors – based on U.S. Aegis destroyers to be deployed in the eastern Mediterranean and later possibly in Romania – would then be fired to hit the incoming missile mid-flight.